Interesting and true Retrospective Story!

I go to a lot of presentations, social events, meetup groups in relation to project management. Recently I went to a presentation regarding the book the  – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable – by Patrick Lencioni. The book is very good and the talk was very good.

But what was also really interesting was a story I was told by another participant after the presentation had finished. I don’t actually know this guys name as I didn’t get his business card! But I will endeavour to find out .

This guy told the great story as follows – he had just started working at a new firm and a colleague asked him at short notice to do a retrospective.  Just 1 hours notice. So this guy said that’s fine. But just as he walks into it, his colleague says this team has some bad problems. So this guys thinking ok :s – well thanks for this! He walks into room and there are about 16 people there! So he starts by getting them to play a game called lean coffee. Then he can see from body language quite quickly that 3 or 4 people are dominate. Others cross their arms and are not interested. Things are chatted over a bit, but he feels social and work pressure is stopping people from being open in the group. So he talks to the individuals out of the group over the following couple of days and uses this stuff he knows from the 5 dysfunctions of teams. Quickly people connect to what he is saying and open up to him. This in turn was helping him solve the problems at hand.

To be honest I think he could have used other references. ‘7 habits of highly successful people’, ‘crucial conversations’ and people would have connected. What is interesting is a lot of issues are just human emotions. Technical aspects are not the problem. Well I guess at least they are not the problem all of the time!

Emotions and Human Psychology (Key areas that could help to improve your life and skills)

One of the things that amazes me about project management and for that matter many other areas of business, is the little or no preference given to human emotions, ego and all the issues, conflicts and benefits that derive from emotions. As of today there is no approach, training or strategy in any of the main project management methodologies – for emotions and dealing with the issues they can cause.

Considering how emotions are basically one of the most powerful forces in us and can dictate the success or failure of a project, it is amazing they don not get more reference. Below I have listed some key areas to pay attention to when dealing with emotions and human character. Obviously this is a huge area to discuss so I will visit and re-visit with various posts.

  • One of the most important skills you will ever have in life is to be able to listen. This will serve you immeasurably in all aspects of your life. To listen to others and also what you are truly feeling.
  • It is highly important to be aware that human character can cultivated for the better. Yours, as well as others. Unfortunately a lot of people are not willing to do what is necessary to implement change for the better. This is very often as simple as not listening to feedback and not taking it on board. If you are not open to coaching you are unlikely to improve.
  • It is not a criticism of a person to point out an improvement they can make about themselves or how they apply themselves to their work. It is merely feedback that can either be accepted or rejected. If giving feedback to someone it is always best to put it diplomatically. If they don’t take feedback well this is an interesting insight into their character and often means a lack of confidence and bad egotism or pride.
  • Human beings can be very bad at listening to or accepting unsolicited advice. A good project manager or scrum master and all the people working on a project should be open to feedback and advice. At least for the sake of the project.
  • Projects should be approached with humility. People with large egos; that make an assumption they are always correct and are not willing to listen to others, can cause disastrous effects on a project. Large egos can create blind sides, disharmony in the team and cut off any chance of correcting badly made decisions.
  • A person must have confidence in their abilities and have a willingness to listen. A belief by an individual that their decisions are always correct and they are themselves of high importance, so cannot possibly change or be open to feedback, is a primitive, ego orientated type approach. That will often lead to mistakes being made and not corrected.
  • Transparency about the work being undertaken is also very important. It creates confidence in staff members and limits gossip and misinterpretations.  The more staff know about a project and about the company or organisation they work for. The more secure they will feel.
  • The human brain evolved specifically to survive. This is our primary instinct. The brain taking input from the past; creates opinions and stories based on available data or made up data to fill in the gaps. This way to the brain, the world is manageable and actions can be prepared. These opinions and stories are often incorrect and based on emotional states or negativity. Transparency limits staff from creating such stories or opinions based on nothing more than hear say or non-factual data.
  • Finally a calm, mindful, awareness of the project, your own emotions and people’s emotions around you. Will help to create success in projects.

Overview of Digital Technologies and related subjects

One of the reasons I originally set up this blog/website was as a central place to post, store and share the things that I or other people know or learn in project management. I also recently thought that it would be a good idea to store the things I learn about in a single document. So I created the doc below. This doc is a live document and I will add knowledge to it when I learn something new or when I want to add something else. It will act as a great reference doc.

Overview of Digital Technologies and related subjects